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posted by Bill Strain alias mrbill78636 on Saturday 19th of December 2009 06:10:31 PM

Here is Warner Bros. official Letters from Iwo Jima site: ... one of the great historical movies of our time. Yesterday I watched this movie with Scotty, a friend of mine from Austin. Scotty was a marine on Peliliu in November 1944 when that island was taken from the Japanese by U.S. Marines. Scotty has one of the medals, seen worn by General Kuribayashi, The Order of the Rising Sun. Scotty told me the intriguing story of how he came to be in possession of the medal, but I don't have his permission to retell it here. The medal is the one General Kuribayashi is wearing around his neck in the illustration here. Scotty promised to bring the medal next time he comes and I'll scan it and make him a color print of this image, so he can have it framed with a picture of it being worn. Scotty's job with the Marines on Peliliu was to repair telephone lines. In 1944 radios were powred through tubes which had very delicate filaments and were often out of order. Communications therefore fell back on field telephones which transmitted over wires. As the wires were discovered and cut by the enemy, Scotty would be sent out to repair them. At first his commanding officer sent two guards to go with him, but after a few trips, Scotty asked permission to go alone, because three marines made too much noise and increased the danger of the assignment. And so, two old men sat and watched a movie and gained a better understanding of those people we hated so intensely, so many years ago. Even, had they been victorious, the Japanese soldier suffered more than the American soldier, simply because of cultural differences. The movie reveals this abundantly.. Wikipedia's Plot Summary: The film is based on the non-fiction books "Gyokusai sōshikikan" no etegami ("Picture letters from the Commander in Chief" by General Tadamichi Kuribayashi (portrayed on screen by Ken Watanabe) and So Sad To Fall In Battle: An Account of War[4] by Kumiko Kakehashi about the Battle of Iwo Jima. While some characters such as Saigo are fictional, the overall battle as well as several of the commanders are based upon actual people and events. In 2005, Japanese archaeologists explore tunnels on Iwo Jima. They find something in the dirt, and the scene changes to Iwo Jima in 1944. Private First Class Saigo, a baker conscripted into the Imperial Japanese Army, and his platoon are grudgingly digging beach trenches on the island. Meanwhile, Lieutenant General Tadamichi Kuribayashi arrives to take command of the garrison and immediately begins an inspection of the island defenses. He saves Saigo and his friend Kashiwara from a beating by Captain Tanida for having uttered 'unpatriotic speeches', and orders the men to stop digging trenches on the beach and begin tunnelling defenses into Mount Suribachi. Later, Lieutenant Colonel Baron Takeichi Nishi, a famous Olympic gold medalist show jumper, joins Kuribayashi for dinner. They discuss the grim prospect of no naval or air support and the fanaticism their fellow officers would show. Kuribayashi evacuates the civilian population of Iwo Jima to mainland Japan. He clashes with some of his senior officers, who do not agree with his strategy of defending inland instead of the beaches; Kuribayashi believes the Americans will take the beaches quickly, and only the mountain defenses will have a better chance for holding out against the enemy. Poor nutrition and unsanitary conditions take their toll on the garrison; many die of dysentery, including Kashiwara. The Japanese troops begin using the caves as barracks. Kashiwara's replacement, a young soldier named Superior Private Shimizu, arrives for duty on the island. Saigo and his friends suspect that Shimizu is a spy sent from Kempeitai to report on disloyal soldiers since he was trained at a Kempeitai institute. The first American aerial bombings occur shortly after, causing significant casualties. After the raid, Saigo is sickened when he sees the corpse of a friend, still sitting upright. Another casualty was Jupiter, Baron Nishi's horse, which was also killed by a bomb. The raid forces the Japanese to dig deeper into the volcanic island. A few days later, U.S. Marines land on Iwo Jima and the Japanese open fire. The battle for Iwo Jima begins. As the landings occur, the American troops suffer heavy casualties, but the Japanese beach defenses are quickly overcome, and the attack turns to the defensive positions on Mount Suribachi. Saigo assists the defense by carrying ammunition to machine gunners. When a Japanese machine gunner is killed by a shell from an American ship, Saigo is ordered by the company commander to use his rifle, since the machine gun is damaged. He handles it so clumsily that he is sent to retrieve some machine guns instead. While delivering the request from his company commander to the commander of the Suribachi garrison, Saigo overhears General Kuribayashi radioing orders to retreat northward. The Suribachi commander, however, ignores the order from the general and instead orders Saigo to deliver a message ordering the men of his company to commit suicide. The Japanese soldiers of Saigo's unit commit suicide with grenades, including Saigo's friend Nozaki, and Captain Tanida shoots himself in the head with his Type 14 8 mm Nambu Pistol, but Saigo runs away and leaves the cave with Shimizu, convincing him that it is more productive to continue the fight rather than die. They come across two other Japanese soldiers, but one gets incinerated by an American flamethrower through a hole in the tunnel, causing the three remaining soldiers to flee. They then come across Japanese soldiers beating and tourturing a captured Marine (There are beliefs the captured Marine was Ralph "Iggy" Ignatowski). The Marine pleads to the Japanese to have mercy on him, although his plea falls on deaf ears as the Japanese soldiers stab him to death with bayonets, much to Saigo's disgust. Saigo and the remaining Japanese soldiers in Mount Suribachi attempt to flee under the orders of Lieutenant Oiso and flee the tunnels at night. However, they run into U.S. Marines, who wipe out all the Japanese troops except for Saigo and Shimizu. The two men flee to friendly lines, but they are accused by Lieutenant Ito of deserting Suribachi. Ito raises his katana to execute Saigo and Shimizu for cowardice when General Kuribayashi appears to stop the punishment, confirming that he had indeed ordered the retreat and thus saving Saigo for the second time. The soldiers from the caves attempt a futile attack against American positions, with the Japanese taking heavy losses. Saigo and the surviving soldiers are told to regroup with Colonel Nishi. Ito then heads towards the American lines with three land mines, intending to throw himself under an American tank. The next morning, heavy fighting takes place. The Japanese take casualties, but manage to kill several U.S. Marines and destroy a tank. Lieutenant Okubo, Nishi's executive officer shoots a U.S. Marine, who is subsequently captured by Nishi's men. He reveals his name to be Sam, and Nishi orders his medic to give him aid despite the Japanese's dwindling medical supplies. Despite their efforts, the Marine dies of his wounds. Nishi reads a letter the American received from his mother. As a bomb hits Nishi's cave, Nishi is badly wounded and blinded. His men bind his wounds, and Nishi orders them to another position on the island. As a last favor, he asks Lieutenant Okubo to leave him a rifle. After leaving that position, the soldiers hear a distant gunshot from Nishi's cave. Being fed up with the battle, Saigo says to Shimizu that he will surrender to the Americans and does not care if Shimizu reports this to the Kempeitai. Shimizu divulges to Saigo that he had been dishonorably discharged from the Kempeitai. In a flashback, it is revealed that he was discharged because he refused to obey a superior's order to kill a barking dog. He was then reassigned to Iwo Jima. This causes Saigo's attitude towards Shimizu to soften considerably. Shimizu breaks down and fearfully asks Saigo to surrender with him. Shimizu and another soldier attempt to flee the cave where they are stationed. Okubo orders them to halt; when they fail to stop, he shoots the other soldier while Shimizu escapes. Shimizu surrenders to a U.S. Marine patrol and finds himself in the company of another Japanese soldier who had surrendered. The patrol moves on, leaving Shimizu and the other Japanese soldier and two Marines. One of the American guards, who does not want to be burdened with POWs, later shoots them, much to the other Marine's surprise and the two catch up to their patrol. The dead soldiers are discovered by the Japanese and Lieutenant Okubo points it out as a lesson for anyone else who wishes to surrender. Saigo, deeply saddened by his death, puts Shimizu's senninbari on his dead body. Meanwhile, Ito has not come across any American forces to attack. Desperate, exhausted, and malnourished, his fanatical will breaks and when American Marines find him, he surrenders. Saigo and the remaining survivors find that Kuribayashi's cave is under attack, and a fierce battle rages. They charge through the crossfire, and lose several men, including Lieutenant Okubo who successfully neutralizes an American Browning M1919 machine gun and its crew. They enter the cave under a storm of American bullets, meeting up with Kuribayashi, who recognizes Saigo. One last attack with all the remaining men is planned. Kuribayashi orders Saigo to stay behind and destroy all the documents, including his own letters to his family. By this, Kuribayashi saves Saigo's life a third time. Kuribayashi and his remaining troops launch their final attack. Most of Kuribayashi's men are killed, and Kuribayashi is critically wounded. Kuribayashi's loyal aide Fujita drags him away from the battle. The next morning, Kuribayashi orders his aide to behead him; however, the aide is shot dead by an American sniper as he raises his sword. Saigo appears at this moment, having buried some of the documents in the cave instead of burning them all. Summoning his last reserves of strength, the very weak Kuribayashi asks Saigo to bury him so that nobody will find him. Kuribayashi then draws his pistol, an American M1911 — revealed in two previous flashbacks to be a gift Kuribayashi was given in the United States before the war, at a party in which he was the guest of honor — and shoots himself in the chest. Saigo carries away the dead general (unknowingly leaving the pistol behind near Fujita) and buries his body at another location. Later in the day, a patrol of American Marines come across Fujita's body. One Marine claims Kuribayashi's pistol and another claims Fujita's sword as war trophies. They then search the area and find an exhausted Saigo with a shovel in his hand. Upon seeing the pistol tucked into a Marine's belt, Saigo swings angrily and wildly at the Americans with his shovel. Too weak to fight properly, Saigo is knocked unconscious with a rifle butt and is taken on to a U.S. aid station on the beach. Awakening a while later, he glimpses the setting sun, with ships in the distance, as well as a U.S. truck, and smiles grimly. The scene shifts back to the Japanese archaeologists who uncover the bag of letters written by Japanese soldiers on the island, never sent, that Saigo buried in 1945. As the letters fall from the bag, the voices of the fallen Japanese soldiers are heard reading from them.

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